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Libraries & Spaces
What is the earliest complaint you have found about the quality of food and what is the most unpleasant?
John Carroll, our founder, voiced complaints about food on campus in 1812. In a letter written to Georgetown President John Grassi, S.J., on October 30th of that year, he included the following admonition: “Never relax in your attention to the neatness and cleanliness of the College, & the personal neatness of your scholars; & to their diet. I know it is good in substance, but I fear, your cook is deficient.” The memoirs of Francis Barnum, S.J., who was a student here in the late 1860s, contain particularly disturbing descriptions of College food. He wrote of breakfast, for example: “This meal was always eaten in silence and consisted generally of bread and coffee. On certain mornings hash would be served which while it was unmercifully ridiculed was nevertheless greatly relished. Strictly speaking it was not a hash, but a stew made up of all the meat scraps and served with plenty of thin gravy. There was a tradition that once a boy found a mouse in the hash which considering all the circumstances was not at all unlikely. The dirty dark old kitchen was not only infested with rats and mice, but was also full of enormous roaches . . . It would sometimes happen when pouring out a cup of coffee that the flow would suddenly cease and I have seen a student calmly run his lead pencil down the spout and dislodge one of these big roaches.”